Elite female rugby players are taller on average than women in the general population.
Locks are the tallest players and scrum halves are the shortest.
This article breaks down the average heights at each position. We also look at how players compare to other sports and the general population.
How Tall Are Female Rugby Players?
I collected the average heights of female players by position from five squads at the recent Rugby World Cup:
- New Zealand
Here is a graph of the average heights by position:
Here is a table of the same data. The sizes are ordered from high to low.
I haven’t separated the tighthead and loosehead props because the two positions averaged as the same height.
Who Are The Tallest Female Players In Rugby?
Locks are the tallest female players in rugby.
The average height of women playing international rugby at lock is 5’10’’ or 1.78 meters.
But why is this position the tallest? The main reason is their role in the lineout.
Lock isn’t the only position that jumps to catch the ball in a lineout. But as they are the tallest players, they are the main jumpers.
They also compete on the opposition throw to try and steal possession.
In earlier times, lifting wasn’t allowed in the lineout so height was even more important.
The introduction of legal lifting hasn’t eliminated the need for height.
But it does mean that many locks are lean so that their teammates can physically hoist them into the air.
Are Women Rugby Players Taller Than The Average Woman?
Let’s put this into context with the general female populations of these countries.
Different websites and organizations give slightly different heights, so these are approximate. I’m not sure why New Zealand women are taller than everybody else!
As you can see, female rugby players are taller on average than the general population.
Scrum halves, the smallest position, are still taller than the average woman in most countries.
How Do Women Rugby Players Compare With Other Sports?
Let’s take a look at how the heights of rugby players compare with their counterparts in other sports.
For this comparison, I looked at the heights of the USA women’s soccer squad.
The three goalkeepers were the tallest players. They averaged 1.78 meters or 5 feet 10 inches.
It’s not surprising that they are the tallest when you consider that they have to jump to catch the ball. Locks in rugby are the tallest for the same reason.
I’ve split up the positions between defenders, midfielders, and forwards because you might want to think about how this correlates with rugby.
We could say that forwards in soccer are like the outside backs in rugby. Defenders are somewhat equivalent of rugby forwards. That leaves the midfielders as the halfbacks.
This is pushing it a little! But here are the average heights broken out:
The heights of soccer players are pretty similar to rugby players.
The exception is the scrum half position in rugby. When I looked at the individuals on the soccer roster, there was no player who was below 5 foot 5.
Positions in basketball don’t really correlate to those in rugby so I won’t try to break them out too much.
I looked at the heights of the USA women’s national roster in 2022 across two sets of positions:
|Center / Forward
The five specialist guards were the only team members under six feet.
The shortest woman on the team was 1.73 meters or 5 feet 8 inches.
The tallest woman was 1.96 meters or 6 foot 5 inches.
When I compare the two sports, the guards are similar to the average heights in rugby.
But the centers and forwards in basketball are significantly taller than most female rugby players.
Male rugby players are of course taller than their female equivalents. But does the distribution across the different positions look similar?
Check out the graphs in our article on how tall male rugby players are.